When it comes to digital transformation, few concepts have the potential to reshape the IT landscape as drastically as that of DevOps. DevOps promises to change IT development from a source of inefficiency and frustration to a center of agility, innovation, and profitability. The DevOps model creates this transformation by increasing speed, improving consistency, and fostering collaboration between teams responsible for software and application development.
What is DevOps?
DevOps is an approach to information technology that aims to deliver products and execute projects quickly and with uncompromising quality. The ultimate objectives are to keep pace with customer requirements, cope with changing demands, and provide business value while projects are still relevant to the market.
The DevOps strategy bridges the gap between development and operations teams and creates a framework for their collaboration. It disrupts the traditional notion of development as an isolated first step in a sequential process of testing and system administration tasks. Instead, DevOps integrates these processes to allow for constant optimization and increased agility.
The DevOps model of continuous integration adheres to the shift-left approach, ensuring that developers do not have to wait for feedback from build and deployment engineers to identify issues. It enables the operations team to plan their strategy more thoroughly because it empowers them with more in-depth knowledge of the code and the delivery schedule.
Some of the distinguishing characteristics of the DevOps model include:
- frequent updates and fixes
- emphasis on end-to-end automation
- continuous deployment
- treating infrastructure as code
Defining DevOps - Core Characteristics
DevOps aims to integrate development and operations functions in order to shorten release cycles, improve accuracy, and boost productivity. But how exactly does it work? The 2018 DevOps Report identifies the building blocks of a successful DevOps approach:
DevOps challenges the conventional mindset of clearly defining and isolating functions. This is a reaction to a long history of inefficiencies produced from the conflicting objectives of the development and infrastructure teams. While development teams strove to produce code as quickly as possible, the infrastructure team’s goal was to ensure stability, quality, and smooth deployment.
In order to foster a more collaborative, integrated approach, DevOps encourages constant communication between teams and the cross-pollination of ideas. Team members will often develop broader skill sets which are relevant to both teams, in order to reduce information and capability silos.
Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Delivery (CD)
Continuous Integration refers to the practice of logging all code changes in a centralized source repository. A versioning system ensures that every change can be tracked and makes it possible to revert to a previous build if necessary.
Continuous Delivery is the practice of running unit, regression, and other automated tests to confirm that code check-ins do not break the build and that the code is always in a deployable state in a runtime environment. By creating automated tests that mimic various real-time use cases, a CD pipeline confirms that the code performs all the required functions. Some of the most popular services for managing these tests and version control include Jenkins, Git, and Maven.
In a typical DevOps model, the code built off the latest tagged version is automatically deployed in multiple environments such as testing and pre-production. When the team is ready to release the version into production, it’s just a matter of kicking off scripts and deploying to the production environment. This reduces the likelihood of encountering bugs.
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Infrastructure as Code
Infrastructure as Code (IaC) is the practice of writing code to manage and provision data centers or deployments. This code is used to build and test deployments while simultaneously applying version control. This removes any manual intervention in the deployment process, as an automated system performs build and release using scripts and configuration files retrieved from the source repository. While IaC creates the need to create dynamic code that can be configurable for different scenarios and environments, it eliminates any last-minute surprises.
IaC creates transparencies about the build process to the development team and is a welcome shift from rudimentary practices in the early years when deployment code meant ad hoc scripts created by system administrators during a release that would simply exist in their local machines.
Microservices is an architectural pattern that splits a bulky application into smaller services, each with a separate deployable artifact and associated with a specific business purpose. The services communicate with each other using APIs.
This divide-and-conquer approach allows smaller teams to focus on different business functionalities and strengthens the CD aspect of DevOps by making it easier to integrate testing with development. This decentralized method means that applications are no longer monoliths that have to go through rigorous testing before every minor change. Other benefits of microservices include fault isolation and reusability of services.
A toolchain refers to a broad category of DevOps tools. These tools help to integrate development with operations, aid automation and monitoring, and promote collaboration. Toolchains are grouped into use categories including coding, building, testing, packaging, releasing, configuration, and monitoring.
Benefits of DevOps
The primary benefit of DevOps culture is speed. High confidence in the reliability of applications that results from rigorous testing enables the deployment of multiple releases in a day. Automation also plays a critical role in this process. The 2017 DevOps Report found that the highest performers (organizations who have a mature DevOps model in place) have automated
- 33 percent more of their configuration management
- 27 percent more of their testing
- 30 percent more of their deployments
- 27 percent more of their change approval processes
The ability to automate and increase speed produce massive gains in efficiency. The same report finds that high performing teams produced
- 46 times more frequent code deployments
- 440 times faster lead time from commit to deploy
- 96 times faster mean time to recover from downtime
- 5 times lower change failure rate (changes are 1/5 as likely to fail)
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Challenges to DevOps Implementation
Moving toward the DevOps model can be a major paradigm shift. For organizations that are immersed in conventional approaches to IT, cultivating a more collaborative and integrated culture may require significant investments in time, money, and effort. But keep in mind that DevOps isn’t a fad or temporary strategy that’s likely to fall out of fashion anytime soon. This is a significant, long-term change in the way your company plans, builds, perfects, and deploys its products.
DevOps and the Cloud - What’s Next
Although DevOps can be implemented in both on-premises and cloud-native systems, the larger shift towards cloud integration and storage is already having an impact on the DevOps model. This is sometimes referred to as “cloudops.”
Cloud integration provides a path to the most advanced data technologies and security features available. Developers are able to try applications and processes in order to find an ideal solution, without having to rebuild or start from scratch each time. As a result, developers enjoy greater flexibility and agility than on-site servers can provide. Cloud integration also offers the ability to further automate repeatable processes in order to reduce the opportunity for error. Finally, many cloud integration options are designed with a “pay-as-you-use” model, so companies can control budgets and eliminate waste.
Maximizing DevOps with the Cloud
Together, cloud integration and DevOps create a synergy of speed, automation, and agility. Gains in efficiency are multiplied, security is boosted, and finer degrees of scalability are achieved. To find out how cloud integration solutions can help you get the most out of your DevOps strategy, download a free trial of Talend Cloud Integration today.